Unsealed Warrant Shows SFPD Officer Misled Court About Journalist's Occupation

from the law-enforcement-still-the-best-at-law-stuff dept

One of the search warrants used by the San Francisco police department to go after a journalist for documents a PD employee leaked has been released. This is only one of the five warrants targeting "stringer" Bryan Carmody, whose house was raided by the SFPD back in May.

This search warrant targeted Carmody's phone records. It was granted on March 1st, allowing the SFPD to obtain records from Verizon. This was done supposedly to track down which cop called Carmody over a two-day period prior to the release of the leaked document to California news agencies.

Earlier this month, Judge Rochelle East quashed the warrant, saying it showed the SFPD omitted key info that would have made it clear it was targeting a journalist -- something forbidden by California's journalist shield law. The judge also unsealed the warrant. It has finally been released and it shows SFPD Sgt. Joseph Obidi writing his way around the fact that Carmody is a journalist.

In the application [PDF], Sgt. Obidi cut-and-pasted part of Carmody's LinkedIn profile. The officer included the part that said Carmody was a "Freelance Videographer." But he excluded the part that said Carmody "has decades of experience shooting, editing and reporting news," as well as the long list of new agencies he had worked with. It also excluded the fact that the SFPD had issued a press pass to Carmody -- one that was still current when the warrant was obtained.

This was pointed out during the hearing about the warrant by Judge East, who said the existence of a press pass should have told the SFPD to steer its investigation away from Carmody.

While under other circumstances in other cases there may be some question as to what a journalist is. In this case I think there is none. The fact that he has a press pass from the San Francisco Police Department indicates to this Court that he is a journalist.

The narrative in the application shows the SFPD suspected an officer or SFPD employee. Yet, the Department decided to go after a journalist for possessing and distributing a document that was illegally leaked by one of its own. It could have limited its investigation to its own staff and their phone records. But it didn't, and now it's only a few weeks away from seeing all of its warrants tossed (and hopefully unsealed) and presumably less than 365 days away from being sued by Bryan Carmody.

Filed Under: 4th amendment, bryan carmody, journalism, lies, sfpd, warrants


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  • icon
    hij (profile), 25 Jul 2019 @ 2:45pm

    The Perp Walks Free

    No matter what Mr Carmody decides to do Sgt. Obidi will be protected and will likely face few consequences. Even if taxpayers have to foot the bill there will be little in the way of a disincentive for any of the wrong-doers to change their ways.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 25 Jul 2019 @ 4:10pm

    Now, about that penalty...

    So they left out crucial information in a warrant request , due to knowing it would have been enough to tank said warrant and prevent it from being granted. I'm pretty sure if anyone without a badge was that blatantly dishonest to a judge there would be some sort of punishment for it(if for no other reason than making the judge involved look like a tool), but given the one(s) who did it do have a badge I expect the judge will just look the other way, maybe wagging a finger or two at most.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JdL (profile), 26 Jul 2019 @ 2:23am

    Twisted law

    "Earlier this month, Judge Rochelle East quashed the warrant, saying it showed the SFPD omitted key info that would have made it clear it was targeting a journalist -- something forbidden by California's journalist shield law."

    The government should not be in the business of declaring who is a journalist and who is not. Anyone who is investigating government wrongdoing should be shielded from retaliatory persecution.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2019 @ 7:56am

      Re: Twisted law

      Agree.

      And American judges are way too casual in issuing warrants, generally.

      Judge Rochelle East was one of the judges who issued the original faulty warrants against Carmody.
      Judges are supposed to be the experts on warrants -- and know how to carefully review warrant-appklications for flaws and insufficient information.
      Judges should disapprove a warrant if that judge sees any indication of problems in the application. But rubber-stamping police and prosecutor applications is the more common and convenient procedure.

      (sidenote: Carmody had an official SFPD "Press Pass" for 16 years)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BurningWoodchipper (profile), 26 Jul 2019 @ 5:02am

    So, what did they find?

    Surely, with 5 warrants, phone records, physical searches, and all this investigatory activity the police have uncovered who the journalist got his tip from.

    Of course, they can't actually prosecute or even reprimand whoever they caught, because:
    a) Badge and/or government employee
    b) fruit of the poisoned tree

    Or are they incompetent, in addition to being unethical perjurors?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      James T (profile), 26 Jul 2019 @ 6:53am

      Re: So, what did they find?

      Oh no they certainly identify those internal cops who are against their global will and force them out. Cops are very vindictive criminals and break every rule possible to punish dissenting views in it's ranks.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ed (profile), 26 Jul 2019 @ 7:41am

    Never trust a cop

    This is real-life example #1,267,352x10*3 of why you never trust a cop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Yu Betcha, 26 Jul 2019 @ 10:49am

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch

    While everyone seems focused on this and that, no one is talking about the deceased fellow prosecuting Joe Citizen who violates the same laws as the prosecutor does.

    Justice?

    Just ice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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